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2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max: Zerene Stacker Focus Stacking

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Unsure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with Lloyd, and see recommended Macs for photographers and videographers.

MPG tested the Apple 16.2" MacBook Pro with M1 Max Chip Z14X000HR, a maxed-out model in all ways except 4TB SSD instead of the maximum 8TB SSD.


2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max

For my photographic work, I use Zerene Stacker heavily for focus stacking and it takes minutes to do some stacks, so speed here matters. Zerene Stacker is not the fastest stacking software out there (see Helicon Focus results), but minimizing touchup work is far more important and that’s where Zerene Stacker shines by yielding results that minimize the need for retouching and my retouching time is far more important than the computer time.

Zerene Stacker is outstanding at using all CPU cores. Being Java-based, it does not use the GPU.

If below are out of date: view current Mac wishlist and all current OWC wishlists.

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended Memory, Storage,etc

CLICK TO VIEW: Recommended MacBook Pro Configurations


See for example Nikon D850 'Focus Shift shooting' feature for Easy Focus Stacking.

Zerene Stacker DMAP: focus stack 20 X 150 megapixel and 28 X 45 megapixel 16-bit TIF.

The 2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max dusts the 2020 iMac 5K and 2019 iMac 5K.

At best, the 28-core Mac Pro ekes out about a 19% time reduction over the 2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max. It’s only about a 10% time reduction for the smaller job. The 2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max is stunning! Consider that most Mac Pros will have 8/10/12/16 cores and that means the MacBook Pro would easily BEAT them.

UPDATE 2023-0501: results are invalid for the 2022 MacBook Pro M2 Max because Interpolation = Lanczos 8 was used in Intel machines (very slow) and something else (unknown for MBP, probably Lanczos 4). Correct figures cannot be obtained since the test machine is no longer available. Times shown for MBP M2 Max are estimates based on 2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max.

2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max vs 2019 iMac 5K, 2020 iMac 5K, 2019 Mac Pro: focus stacking in Zerene Stacker
2021 MacBook Pro M1 Max
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